Corp Comm Connects

More condo towers to rise in Vaughan's downtown as subway arrival nears
Since last spring, land developers have unveiled plans for eight highrise condominiums in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre
Feb. 27, 2017
Adam Martin-Robbins  

For decades, Vaughan grew outward to become a sprawling suburban community of, largely, detached single-family homes.

Now, developers in the city’s emerging downtown are reaching skyward in earnest. Since last spring, they’ve unveiled plans for eight highrise condominiums in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC).

“It’s good in terms of creating a better mix in the city that’s right now, probably, around 85 per cent still single and semi-detached homes,” said Sony Rai of Sustainable Vaughan. “Getting a mix and variety of housing is definitely a great thing.”

The city’s plan for the VMC — bounded by Hwy. 407, Portage Parkway, Creditstone Road and Hwy. 400 — estimates it will be home to 25,000 residents and 11,000 employees by 2031.

The pending arrival of the Spadina subway, slated to open by Dec. 31, is driving the rapid redevelopment that will see soaring glass towers replace the one-storey and two-storey retail outlets and industrial buildings that currently dominate the landscape.

When doors to the subway station open, Vaughan commuters will be able to reach Toronto’s Union Station in about 45 minutes.

They’ll also have a direct link to York’s bus rapid transit network along Hwy. 7 — to be renamed Avenue 7 — and, eventually, access to an inter-regional bus terminal.

Gupta Group is among those ramping up plans to build highrise condos.

In early January, the firm unveiled plans for two residential towers — 53 storeys and 51 storeys, respectively — where the Hilton Garden Hotel currently sits.

“The City of Vaughan has been very co-operative and they’re very, very happy with the project,” said Steve Gupta, chair and CEO of Gupta Group. “They say they haven’t seen anything like it yet.”

His condos will be connected by a three-storey podium — standing closer to five-storeys because each floor is six-metres high — housing retail shops, a pool, fitness centre, meeting rooms and lounges, he said.

And both towers will boast an enclosed, all-season “sky lounge.”

Construction is expected to start by the end of 2017.

Gupta sees the VMC undergoing a major transformation during the next decade.

“I think Avenue 7 will become like North York and downtown Toronto,” he said. “I envision, in 10 years, this whole land between Jane Street and the 400 will be all (tall) buildings — it could be some office, it could be some retail, could be some condominiums.”

That’s possible. After all, he isn’t the only landowner building upward.

Mitch Goldhar and SmartREIT — developers behind the Walmart-anchored big-box plazas — recently announced plans to erect two residential towers, about 35 storeys tall, in partnership with CentreCourt Developments.

They will stand alongside the recently opened KPMG office tower in the 100-acre SmartCentres Place where more construction is poised to begin.

Plans were unveiled in August for a 220,000-square-foot tower there.

Anchored by professional services firm PwC Canada, it will also house a 100,000-square-foot YMCA with child care, fitness and aquatic facilities, plus a public library and studio space.      

“The SmartCentres approach has been good in terms of putting in the investment … to get the amenities spaces in first, then do the residential build out. So use the amenities to attract potential residents,” Rai said.

But he’s concerned the biggest landowner in the VMC could bog down the pace of development around the subway by building out more slowly so as not to compete against themselves, Rai said.

“The areas that are developing quicker are the smaller parcels outside the SmartCentres-owned lands,” he noted.

Cortel Group is a prime example.

The firm was first off the mark with Expo City, which features two 37-storey residential towers near Jane Street and Hwy. 7.

Cortel’s third tower, the 39-storey Nord East, is now in the works.  

“Expo City has been blessed with success for several reasons. Being the first residential project in the VMC, we’ve been able to share the vision of what’s to come and give people the first opportunity to live in the VMC,” Cortel Group vice-president Peter Cortellucci said. “This presents an unprecedented opportunity for homebuyers to increase the value of their purchase in a short period of time simply due to the speed and magnitude of the developing VMC.”

Cortel Group isn’t alone in enjoying brisk sales.

Liberty Development’s Cosmos project set a record for 416/905 condo sales, selling 780 suites in two towers in 25 days, according to the Altus Group.

Buyers snapping up condo units in the VMC range from young professionals buying their first homes to seniors looking to downsize, Cortellucci said.

He’s optimistic the demand will last.

“The communities in the GTA are growing and people are looking for places to live. I don’t see any indicators of this slowing any time soon,” Cortellucci said. “The trend will continue, the area is getting better every day, and every day there are more reasons to move to the VMC.”